At only age 19, William Cusick has already given his regards to off-off Broadway, giving him a taste of his future.
Cusick, a junior at St. John’s University originally from Allentown, Pa., is a TV/film production major who would like to become a film director, something that he feels has “much more expression for someone like me who wants to be creative and conceptual.”
“What people don’t seem to understand about directing is that, as a director, you’re on stage the entire time. Everything that’s going on on-stage, you’re responsible for,” Cusick said. “It’s one of those things where you’re always there, you don’t ever leave.”
It was in Allentown that Cusick was first introduced to the theater. “I was raised on the theater,” Cusick said.
As a child, Cusick attended the four or five shows put on by Allentown College’s theater group as well as the summer Shakespeare festivals. He also was influenced by his eight older siblings, who all acted.
In high school, Cusick continued with the theater, acting in 12 shows. During that same time, he wrote four more shows that were performed. A fifth show was performed this past summer.
Throughout his time at St. John’s, Cusick has taken part in several activities. This year, he is president of the film club, vice president of the Chappell Players Theater Group, assistant jazz director of WSJU, and he submits poetry and other writings to Seqouya.
During his work in the Chappell Theater Group last year, Cusick was in four shows, where he was a sound worker, an assistant director, as an actor, and a member of the pit, playing guitar.
As part of the executive board of the theater group, Cusick’s duties involve production, working with directors and “keeping the group together.”
Cusick spent a short time working on the recent production of “Damn Yankees” as an assistant director and with technical work.
When an opportunity to work on a professional show came up, Cusick took the chance, but had to leave “Damn Yankees.” This opportunity placed Cusick on 78th Street and Broadway as the assistant director of the off-off Broadway (meaning it had less than 100 seats) show, “Reckless.”
Cusick received this chance due to the success of his former work. He wrote as well as directed a four-night show that impressed several people. “It did so well it just got me a reputation,” Cusick said.
The director of “Reckless” e-mailed Cusick, asking him to assist with the show. Besides acting as the assistant director, he also worked sound. Cusick was the only student on the show, which is unusual. “None of the cast knew how old I was,” Cusick said. “They all just assumed I was 22 or 23.”
Although Cusick had to sacrifice to work the show, he feels that it was worth it. “It cost me a lot of money. It cost me a lot of time. But, I learned a lot and it was a lot of fun and I made a lot of good connections,” Cusick said.
Next spring, Cusick may return to work for the next show and may even direct a show for the same director the following fall. For the St. John’s theater group, Cusick will be singing in the up-coming “Cabaret” and will be directing “A Mid-Summer Nights Dream.”
In the future, Cusick would like to stay in New York City and possibly study theater directing at Julliard. Eventually, he may move to the West Coast to work in the film industry.
“I’m already happy with it [theater]. When you’re involved in a film or theater, it’s just so rewarding,” Cusick said. “I think no matter what I do, I’ll be happy just as long as I’m doing it.”